St Croix River Road Ramblings

Welcome to River Road Ramblings.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Polk County Wisconsin -- Destruction of the Fair Grounds?

    The Polk County Fair is over for another year.  It has been part of my life since the earliest I can remember, first as a thrilled toddler riding the Merry-Go-Round, then as a 4-H'er, later as helping Mom with her 50+ years of exhibiting fruits and vegetables, then as Margo and I began exhibiting.  
    When we retired in 2005, we began volunteering at the fair, mostly working at the 1850s historic school house, helping with make it a historical stop during the fair, something we did again this year. 
   However, the historic nature of the fairgrounds, with many buildings 100 years old or more, is being threatened by a group of folks who believe old is bad, and new is good, threatening the future of the dozen or so historic buildings at the 1886 fairgrounds. 
  Here is my letter to the editor this week.  I have become an advocate for repairing the 1909 grandstand, and that has evolved into concern over all of the old buildings.  
**********
    The Polk County Fair Park in St Croix Falls has many historic buildings in danger of being destroyed by the Polk County Fair Society and the Polk County Board.  We must act now to stop this wanton destruction of our history on the 1886 fairgrounds.  They are our buildings, owned by us, the residents or taxpayers of the county.  The two boards appear to be moving rapidly to begin the process with the 1909 grandstand destruction, but this is but the tip of the iceberg.  Motivated by visions of newness, pushed by a campaign of misinformation and aided by  intentional neglect, we are in grave danger of losing at least three more buildings in the near future.  
   The historic 1909 grandstand is the first in line, but the 1850s Red School House, the flower building, and the dance pavilion are next in line if the current Fair Society continues to pull the wool over the eyes of us and of the county board.    
    Margo and I have been volunteering at the fair since 2005 helping with the oldest building on the fairgrounds, the Red School House, and are members of the Fair Society.   At the fair this year we heard disturbing news of planned destruction, far beyond that of the grandstand, ideas that we previously had dismissed as rumors, but now confirmed by members of the Fair Society Board, members of the County Board, and by volunteers at the fair and fair goers. 
   The disturbing news?  There is a campaign to rid the south end of the fairgrounds of the wonderful old buildings and replace them with another pole shed.  The grandstand is first, and the other buildings next. 
   The campaign includes intentional neglect of the buildings.  I was rather dumbfounded last year when, seeing the Red school house was badly in need of paint inside and out, and a few window sash replacements, I made a written offer to raise $500 to begin the fixes and the offer was ignored by the fair board. 
  This year when I talked to fair board members, asking them why they weren’t fixing the old buildings or at least taking my offer to do it myself with the school, was told that the job was overwhelming, $100,000 or more needed because of lead paint issues, and the building was in such poor shape it wasn’t worth fixing and the comment, that we should be grateful the society kept the school house around another year for historic exhibits at all.   
  That lead paint is an excuse is complete nonsense!  The school house is like any building, in need of ongoing care, but the issues are minor and those of neglect.  A little maintenance and it will be good for several more generations of fairgoers.         
    The Wisconsin Historical Society tells us “You do not need to take drastic measures to eliminate lead paint from your historic house or building. Lead paint is only a hazard if it is unstable, so the mere presence of lead paint is no reason to destroy the historic fabric of your structure…procedures to safely remove lead paint should not cost more than 10% above the cost of a hand-scraped paint removal job”  and goes on to explain the easily followed details, the same things I do with my own 100 year old house.  
     Not only did fair board members raise this lead as an insurmountable issue, but a county board member repeated it last week.  Part of a campaign of misinformation from the Fair Society and bought, without question, by some county board members, who should at least take the time to understand these issues rather than just repeat incorrect information (BS is really a better description).   
   Another issue with the school:  two of the eighteen window sashes need replacement now and others will in the future.  The wildly exaggerated cost by board members is, like that of lead paint, totally bogus. The frames need painting but are sound.  A replacement, made-to-size barn sash that matches the historic existing windows perfectly is about $60/per sash at Menards, and easily replaced.  When I volunteered this year to do the fixes and fund them, through donations from local history societies, I was told I couldn’t proceed by fair board members.     
   What we have, is a campaign of destruction, led by the Fair Society President Dale Wood, in what appears to be a personal mission to destroy the historic buildings on the fairgrounds and replace them with pole sheds.  Mr. Wood claims phone calls and people from the community are unanimously behind him – hundreds of them all in favor of ridding the fairgrounds of its history, with the grandstand the first domino.  
    Our County board makes the final decisions on buildings, informed (misinformed?) by the Fair Society as to what needs work. County board member, Larry Jepson noted at a board committee meeting last week, that while at the fair, he noted the peeling paint, deteriorating roofs, and a general lack of upkeep on the buildings.  Administrator Frye commented that the Fair Society has the obligation to bring those problems to the County Board’s attention, and if the buildings are deteriorating, the Fair Society is not doing its job, either in doing the maintenance or asking the county to take it on.    
   My opinion is that the neglect is intentional and part of the attempt to get rid of older buildings by the Fair Society.  We all know that we have to continue to maintain our own houses to keep them livable.  The fair buildings are no different.    
  We, the residents and taxpayers of Polk County own the fairgrounds as a county owned park.  We vote for our County board members to represent our interests. If we value the fairgrounds and want the historic buildings to continue a part of our fair experience, we must make our voice heard too.  
        The next county board meeting, Aug 15th, 6 pm, considers a resolution to fund an engineering study of the grandstand that would actually find out the condition and cost of repair to continue using the oldest grandstand in the whole Midwest.    
    Right now we don’t even know what is wrong with it nor the cost of getting it fixed.    Any rational group of folks making a decision on their own buildings, unless they were insistent on a new building only, or no building at all, would start by finding out what is wrong and the cost of fixing it before making the decision to tear it down.   Yet that is likely not to happen with the grandstand. 
    Egged on and misinformed by the Fair Society, our county board representatives are likely to vote against even this modest step!   Five or more members may be voting nay in their belief that any money spent on the fairgrounds at all is a waste of  taxpayer’s money and open bleachers or grassy knolls are the answer. A few more will vote against it for fear the cost of fixing will be reasonable, and so get in the way of the Fair Society’s campaign to modernize everything, having accepted the Fair Society’s propaganda efforts.   
  What can we do to stop this push to destruction of our history?  Make your opinion heard by both County and Fair board members.   We own these buildings and only we can stop this campaign to destroy our heritage. 
  August 15, 6 pm, at Balsam Lake at the county board meeting is the crucial step in this process when a vote for the engineering study is a vote to proceed rationally, and against is a vote to destroy our history.   
   Become a member of the Polk Co Fair Society.  Just send $5 to Diane Kuhl, 298 30th St., Clear Lake, WI 54005.  include your name, address, telephone number, email – 5 year membership.  Sometimes we must work within organizations that purport to have our best interests in mind. 
  By the way, the Red School House had its peeling paint and rusted spots on the outside touched up, the inside worst flaking paint removed, and a temporary fix for the two sagging window sashes by an anonymous volunteer who just did it.   

The Flower building looks like an old school house too.  It has a handicap entrance to the side, and other than some peeling paint, quite nicely preserved!   

The 1850s School House where Margo volunteer.  With a little paint and some window sashes, it will be fine for many more generations of visitors. 

The metal brick embossed siding is sound, but needed some touchup and probably a full painting.  Last time was by the 4-H kids many years ago. 

After some scraping and touchup paint, the siding rust and peeling is halted, but painting the whole building would be better. 




Monday, July 31, 2017

The 2017 Polk County Fair in Photos

Some photos from the fair July 27-30, 2017.  No editing, sorting, etc, just straight from the camera.  
link 1
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B8SQWdFJt54LMUJPeHdWWmE3aE0


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June Berries

s


Photos from around the farm the third week of June 2017













Sunday, June 18, 2017

Graduation Parties

    Margo and I showed up at our great niece Karra's high school graduation party yesterday.  The only one we went to this year.  Karra has uncertain plans for continuing her education, possibly working a year and then going on to school.  We always try to encourage new high school graduates, that this is just a step in their education, not the end of it. 
  When I taught high school in Goodman, WI, back in the 1970s, I encouraged my students to go on to college or vocational school, telling them "life can be quite enjoyable if you get a good job that you like and pays a decent wage,  but that requires preparing yourself by more education."
   Goodman is a small lumber town on Hwy 8, near the Michigan border.  The town had a large veneer mill and sawmill and originated as a mill town where Mr. Goodman owned everything including the houses, bank, store, etc.  Louisiana Pacific had bought the mill when Goodman died, and decided they didn't really want to own a town, so sold all but the mill, store and bank to the folks living in the houses. 
  The problem I had with the mill was we had opposite views on the future of the Goodman students.  
  I thought they all should continue in school after high school.  The few jobs in town that were not mill jobs, were small service businesses (hardware, gas station, bar/restaurant), the school system and not much more. 
  Mill jobs were low paying, low benefits and not quite enough for a family to live on without a two-income family. 
  The Mill liked to hire kids right out of high school, first a summer job to earn some money for college,  but then a bank loan to buy a car, tying then into monthly payments, gas, insurance etc., taking most of the income.  I had one mill manager tell me straight out -- "we need labor to run the mill, so don't tell everyone to go on to school."  
  The mill needed lots of manual labor with a skill set learned on-the-job.  The highest pay for anyone working there, not in management, was about half of the $12,000/year I made teaching (working 9 months to earn that).  Margo and I and our new baby Scott struggled to live on that income, and it was impossible for the mill hands to live on a single salary income. 
  Many of my students did go on to school. With few opportunities in Goodman, they had to leave to find a job.  
  One student was particularly difficult for me.  She (we will call her Emma -- not her name)  was a very bright student, loved science and math, even to the point where I got a "do it yourself" type electronics course for her to take under my guidance.  When I tried to encourage her to go on to college or technical school, she was interested, but uncertain.   Her father was gone from the scene (not sure why), and her mother was very religious and of a sect that didn't believe in education or being much of the world. 
  At the parent teacher conference, I talked to the mother about her daughter's obvious abilities and interests and desirability of encouraging them in the future, and was completely shut down, with the "I don't believe in that for my children.  Education will turn them away from God and our beliefs. You must quit talking to her about college."  
  I talked to Emma after this, and told her that life is made up of choices we have to make for ourselves, and that while our parents are looking out for what they think are our best interests, in the end we have to make our own way through the world.  I don't know what she chose to do; as we moved away as I made a choice to try a different career than teaching. 
   I don't really believe that God thinks we should remain intentionally ignornant in the world, but I too had that advice from the church I attended. Ignorance and religion too often seem to be partners in turning life into a dream of the hereafter rather than a good life in the herenow.  
  My friend, Beth, who lives in Honduras, tells me that poverty there is not only the result of corrupt government, but of corrupt religion; one that says suffering here is good for you and all that matters is getting into heaven, so put up with all the crap, don't better yourself, just keep focused on the reward after you die.  
  I find this view of religion total nonsense.  Who would want to go to heaven where a ruler who liked seeing us suffer during our lifetime reigned?  Rather we take on our own lives, and with God's help make it a joyful life.  And to get that you get all of the education you can possible cram into your head.
 
   

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Midsummer

    Since 2003, the year we visited our cousins in Skee, Sweden, Midsummer day is special.   In Sweden where the Hansson family came from (in the area along the Norway-Sweden boundary about 60 miles south of Oslo), the climate is cooler, damper and milder in the winters, but not terribly different from here in Cushing, WI (maybe more like along the Lake Superior shore).
  However, being much farther north, the winter days are dark most hours, followed by summers that by mid June the days last from 3 am to 11 pm and barely dark in the 11-3 night.  The long days are cumulate in the Midsommar celebration. 
  Cousin Arne believed that he had to have new potatoes from the garden and fresh strawberries for the celebration.  He cheated a little by raising a hill of potatoes in a 5 gallon plastic pail, kept in the barn overnight, and let out during the day at first.  The new potatoes might be small, but were part of the old life when the long winter food supply was, too often, gone by the time the garden began producing, so new potatoes were counted on by mid June. 
  Another tradition was fresh strawberries on Midsummer, festooned on a white layer cake.  
  When we visited over Midsummer, Arne and Lillian had both.  The garden strawberries were still only pink, but southern Sweden had ripe ones and whatever the price, one bought some for the cake.  
  So this year, with the strawberry picking beginning this morning (2 quarts), and the potatoes thriving in the garden, we may have the Swedish dinner too.   
    My Swedish cousins will get together for their family reunion on midsummer day again this year, as they always do, and celebrate. We are invited, but it seems as if our world traveling days are over now.  However, we will remember them with a glass of aquavit this Thursday at 5-7 pm at the Luck Museum where Scandinavian beverages are featured as the new "Skal" exhibit goes up the following week. 
  
  Some photos from the Farm






The Farm gardens, orchard, and berries look prosperous

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Summer

The thermometer in the shade says 89F at noon today, however the strong breeze and dry air make it pleasant to sit on the roofed porch, and sip my iced well water from my $8000, 2015 well. I figure each drink cup of water should be valued at 10 cents until I get my full return from the well. I think that will be about 2050. Maybe I should change it to 20 cents each to half the payoff time.
Scott and I were out early finishing the new metal roof on the garage. We had it almost done, just one half-sheet along the edge and the ridge. Got it all done by 9 am before it got too sunny and hot to be on a roof.
The garage was built in about 1948, and had three layers of asphalt shingles which we roofed over with steel panels. Steel, 3x12 feet panels, go on very fast using a battery drill and screws, are not any more expensive than shingles, last at least twice as long, and although hail will dent them, it will not puncture the roof.
The first garage roof was hit by golf-ball and baseball size hail back in the 1960s, punching large holes in the blue shingles. Insurance helped pay for a new roof then. Another roof lasted nearly 30 years and then Dad hired his grandson to put on a third layer. These turned out to be the Certain-teeded junk ones that in 15 years were already in rough shape. So the steel covers it all.
Next spent an hour mowing the lawn, but the mower seemed to be overheating, so I moved to the garden and hoed for an hour, but the hoe-er was overheating, so thought about taking the garden tiller to the sand garden -- where the watermelons finally have appeared, but I was worried it would overheat too.
Margo is doing a Luck Museum shift today (10-1). She volunteers some Saturdays to keep it open Memorial Day to Labor Day. She never really recovered back to normal from the neck and back surgeries and the cancer treatment. She lost strength, stability, and functionality and so has to choose less strenuous activities that keep her enjoying life.
Last week she had her final cancer followup check. If you make 5 years after diagnosis, it is a milestone that says you are likely going to make another 5 OK. June 2012-Aug 2013 was a hard time that then was followed by two surgeries that stabilized a back and neck worn out from years of being a nursing assistant in the days when heavy lifting was part of the job.
I watered her flowers as the rain that almost came this morning didn't. The forecast is for a cool wet Sunday and then hot wet early week, a good chance to relieve the couple of weeks of dry weather.
When I was a kid, on a dry hot June day, it would have been an almost 100% certainty I would be spending all of a day like today hauling hay bales-- the square bales that you loaded by hand. If not with Dad and my brothers, then for my neighbor Raymond Noyes. It was hot, hard work.
I suppose I shouldn't complain as Dad or Raymond were out there working hard too, and before and after haying had to milk their cows too as well as try to motivate a young man whose mind was elsewhere, often straining my young eyes to see if one of the Gullickson Twins was raking hay in the next field, working on her tan in a bikini. Odd how interesting that was at the time.



Here on the farm, we have 4 gardens this year. The fruit garden-- strawberries, raspberries, grapes, and blueberries with a row of tomatoes too. The vegetable garden--potatoes, peas, radishes, and lettuce. The sand garden with watermelons and muskmelons along the Riverroad. And the pumpkin/squash garden to sell at the River Road Ramble. All but the squash/pumpkin garden are doing well. We had to replant that one.
The apples set quite well in the orchard, and so the spraying regime of every 2 weeks begins now.
The lawn has finally slowed down with the dry weather and we made it through the flush without going out and buying a new lawn mower. Sharpening the blades regularly helps old mowers make another season.
The events of spring and summer are coming rapidly. Memorial Day we put together a booklet on all of the 13 WWI soldiers buried in Wolf Creek Cemetery trying to do a little research on each. The Rock club has it's big rock show in Frederic next weekend. Then comes the Sterling Picnic. July is Lucky Days and the Fair, and then August, Cushing Fun Days and finally the Ramble in September. Margo and I volunteer to do various jobs at each and so it becomes quite busy for the summer. Sometimes it is hard to enjoy the events when you feel responsible for helping make them a success.
I had my visit to the doctor for the year and other than being a more substantial person than she would like, I am in fair to good condition (always with the qualifier -- for my age.).



For a few recent videos from the Farm, check out my youtube channel.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Epson WF 7620 Banner Print

This is purely an educational post that explains how to take advantage of an Epson WF 7620 printer to make a banner as big as 13x47.24 inches (the limit of the printer). 
  I have one of these printers and the Luck museum has one.  We bought them because they have an 11x17 scan/copy area and can print on up to 13x18 size paper (all measurements are inches).  
  The printer is reasonably decent output, but as the clerk at Best Buy told me, "if you don't print regularly with Epson printers, the heads clog up."  She was right!!!
  However, I have found that I can unclog the heads by following the DIY information found on the internet that includes soaking the heads over a wet paper towel and if needed, gently syringing distilled water through them.  Something one shouldn't have to do!
  Anyway, the printer specifications claim to print banners up to 47.24 inches long. (that comes from the metric 120 cm long and 33 cm wide maximums which may be some metric standard? ).
  I bought a roll of cheap paper at Walmart in the art supplies area.  It is like typing paper only on a roll and 12 inches by 100 feet.  I cut off 48 inches of it and tried to feed it into the single sheet feeder, but it was too floppy.  So I taped the leading edge to a sheet of heavier 12x18 paper and that would let the printer grab the paper and feed it through OK.  Once it gets started through, it goes the rest of the way fine. 
  Next I tried to find a program that will let me do a page layout of 12x47.24.   Word will do 12x22 -- and no longer.  Printshop 13x18 and nothing longer.  However, Open Office (the free word processor) lets me define any size. Wonder why the other programs don't? 
   I went to the printer setup on my computer and defined a "Banner" paper type of 12x47.24.  Then I designed a poster and printed it to the Epson selecting the rear feed, the new Banner paper size and pushed the print button.  It worked!!! 
  Of course, since the paper was not glossy, the quality was not wonderful, and the Epson was not printing through all of the nozzles as usual, so a little streaky until I told it to print slow and high quality.  And I have to cut the tape holding the back stiffener paper off.  
       Imagine this 47.24 inches long and 12 inches tall.  Now I think I will see if I can find 13 inch rolls of glossy ink paper.  
     I tried to find out how to do this on the internet, but nothing for the Epson WF 7620.  Some printers have a roll feed paper and cutter built in, but not mine.  However it is pretty handy to have a 4 foot poster.
  What is my rating for the printer?  It does pretty good with the scanner top feed.  I can scan double sided and up to about 25 pages at a time without much trouble jamming unless it is very thin paper or badly wrinkled.  The scan quality can be set to be plenty high for the museum.  I can scan to a flash drive, SD card, my computer or the cloud.  
   I have it networked at home and that works fine. At the museum the networking would sometimes drop out, so I just hooked it directly to the computer.   
  The ink is very expensive and it does use a lot.  At home I refill my own cartridges with pigment ink and at the museum we buy them.  Their first printer clogged so bad, I took it back after a year (we had a 3 -year extended Best Buy warranty--and they gave us a new one).  That one also had some error messages indicating stuck paper or something.  I have had my own for nearly 3 years now and other than the clogging nuisance, it works pretty good.  I don't print a lot and that is my problem too.  The heads are expensive, but replaceable -- but cost nearly as much as the printer ($200 for the printer, $120 for the heads).  They have "micro fine" holes that are almost impossible to keep functioning without a daily print with each color and black. 
   Every inkjet printer I ever had clogged, so I expect that.  The old HP's were easiest -- their print head was right in the cartridge and every time you bought a new cartridge you got to start over new.  My Kodak was terrible, and all of my Epson's spent about as much time having the heads being soaked as they did printing even with Epson ink cartridges. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017 Wolf Creek, WI

One hundred seventy five folks braved the cool shower threatening weather to attend Memorial Day at the Wolf Creek Cemetery.  
Photos: 

118 Veterans on the board

The children helped with the program, leading the pledge of allegiance and patriotic readings 


The speaker was a lay minister from Cushing

Patriotic Reading

Steve W lays the wreath in front of WW I veteran, Ralph Doolittle


118 names read this year including my cousin Carlos Bergeron, newest veteran in the cemetery. 

The local history society booklet with information
on the 13 WW1 veterans in the cemetery, 100 years after the US entered WW1 (April 1917)

The umbrellas came out, but really weren't needed

Lining up for lunch at the Methodist Church

The serving line


The Methodist Church women who are serving lunch in the former Wolf Creek School -- now the Wolf Creek Methodist Church.  I think it became the church in 1957, and if so, that means the 60th year of lunch in this building!  I went to school there until it closed in 1957, and always brag that we left the school in such wonderful shape that it was obvious to make it into a church.  Other's have said that the students there were such heathens, that it needed a church to compensate. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Polk County Fair Granstand vs Grassy Knoll

I have been in a quest to try to save the 1909 Polk County Fair Granstand in St Croix Falls.  Part of the effort is letters to the editor.  Here is the one for this week. 

Grassy Knoll or Grandstand?

    Thursday, May 4th, the Polk County board subcommittee to deal with the county fairgrounds historic 1909 grandstand met to consider the future of the oldest wooden grandstand in the Midwest.  The grand old building’s future is very uncertain, not because of its structural defects (which are unknown), but because of the dreams of competing interests. 
    Four visions of the future were presented during public comments and in the board member discussion.  They are listed in order of speakers.
    1.  Russ Hanson, local historian, pressed for evaluation of what he said his research has found to be the oldest grandstand in the Midwest.  He said we must find the cost of repair before making any decisions on its future.  He urged repair if  possible,  as it is truly an historic building, one of a kind.   “The historic fairgrounds are a gem in our county.  The 1909 grandstand, the 1917 H barn, the 1928 calf barn and dormitory are just a few of the truly historic buildings on the 1885 fairgrounds that make it special and an attraction to tourists and local folks who remember their own childhood in each building.  Destruction of these buildings would be short sighted and a terrible removal of our heritage without first determining the feasibility and cost to repair them.”
    2.  Dale Wood and Tim Wilson from the Polk County Fair Society Board stated they were in favor of getting rid of the grandstand, as it is “too old” to spend money on repairs or even an evaluation.  They are eager for a brand new shiny, steel, aluminum and plastic grandstand replacement at about $600,000.  They see the choice as an old building they are tired of bothering with versus a brand new one that would be maintenance free.  (Actually, there would be a costly yearly contract for inspection and maintenance indefinitely to keep it usable and  insurable.)
    3.  Two visions were presented by County Board Member Chris Nelson of Balsam Lake.  First is destruction of the 1909 building with two options:  decide on an immediate teardown without salvage, or a “humane teardown” with some salvage.   Then, stating his opposition to either repair or replacement, and in general to any grandstand at all financed by county funds, gave two options he would support.  A grassy knoll built on the spot where folks could bring chairs and blankets to watch the activities or the yearly rental of bleachers, and if pressed, the county might help buy some permanent bleachers.  He stated that “others” on the board were also opposed spending any money on any grandstand old or new.  The only important input into this kind of decision is saving taxpayer money.  
    4.  Another board member, when asked of his vision of what a fair grandstand is gave a description exactly like the existing grandstand, a place of comfort, shelter, shade, out of sun, rain, wind and a place to comfortably watch events in all weather.  He expressed no favor for old or new, but thought a grandstand was an important part of  the fair.
    My own view is that the Fair Society is na├»ve in thinking a new grandstand is a certainty without having first assured there is a two-thirds majority of the county board willing to pay for it.  We, the residents and taxpayers of Polk County actually own the fairgrounds and buildings.  The Fair Society and County Board are our voted on representatives to manage them for us.
   I believe those who oppose determining the cost and feasibility of repair are motivated primarily by their dreams of shiny newness or cheap grassy knolls.  It is quite possible the repair cost will be much less than the replacement option, but we won’t know if the first step is destruction and then seeing if there is support for a new one.      
   Will we come to the 2018 fair and see a pile of dirt with an historic marker “Grandstand 1909-1917, destroyed by the Polk County Fair Society and the Polk County Board”?
   Five generations of Polk Countians and tourists have enjoyed watching shows from the oldest grandstand in the Midwest, and another 5 generations could do so if you express your support for evaluation and if reasonable, repair of the grand old structure.    Remember these buildings belong to us, not the County board nor the Fair Society. 

  Early photo of the oldest grandstand in all of the Midwest courtesy of  Polk County Again and the Polk County Historical Society. 


April 2017 Photo of the Polk County Fair Grandstand.  Will there be only a grassy knoll there in 2018?             Photo by  Russ Hanson

Russell B Hanson, Cushing, WI


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Gardening Starts

With the abnormally warm spring we pulled up the maple syrup taps this week, cleaned the equipment and just have the bottling left.   We had an average season-- 1 quart of syrup made per tap, so we can't complain.  We only made 20 gallons--one of those years where we were too laid back to put out all of the buckets


 It has been dry this spring too--not much snow to melt and that happened in February.  Hardly any rain so far here on the farm either.  Farmers have started working the fields already.
  I am trying to catch up on cleaning the area behind the barn that last summer we removed the old machinery.  Hundreds of rocks and still more metal in the ground, and lots of tree tops, brush and so on.  Right now, before the grass and weeds get deep, if I can get it so the mower will go over it, then it won't get away from me. 

  Several nights of burning brush and grass, with more to go.  The barnyard was last used for cows in about 1985, and box elders, brush and weeds took it over.  I hope to open it all and turn it into an extension of the orchard -- planting semi-dwarf apples and fencing it all in from the deer.  Lots of work, but I feel pretty good this year, and have the tractors to help out, and Scott sometimes too. 
  My one outside effort this spring has been to campaign for saving the 1909 Polk County Fair Grandstand in St Croix Falls.  The insurance folks say it must be shored up before they will cover it, and the first reaction of both the county board and fair board was to tear it down and use bleachers or maybe a new metal grandstand.  This one is certainly fixable, and is by far the oldest one in the whole midwest (of the smaller wooden type -- 1500 seats).  The folks are at least considering that now.